Distilleries around the country have this week committed to joining the fight against the spread of Covid-19, responding to the huge demand for alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel.

In west Cork, Clonakilty Distillery is creating sanitisers with an alcohol content of 63% and is going into production immediately, with bottles and equipment in place.

The first batch of 5,000 bottles will be ready from next week. It will be offered for free to local charities and the company will supply the rest at cost, at first to the local community.

Also in Cork, Irish Distillers has said that it is creating large scale quantities of alcohol for free to manufacture hand sanitiser gel, in partnership with Cork firm Mervue Laboratories which will provide it to the Health Service Executive in Leitrim.

The Shed Distillery has announced it will shortly commence the distribution of emergency alcohol and surface cleaner across the region.

It will supply alcohol to Ovelle Pharmaceuticals, which will create 12,500 bottles of hand sanitiser gel with this week's batch.

A number of other distilleries and drinks producers across the country are also getting geared up to manufacture hand sanitiser gel, once they have complied with the necessary regulations and have sourced the other components.

Separately, Guinness Ireland has pledged €1.5m to support Irish bar staff and communities affected by Covid-19.

Patricia Callan, Director of Drinks Ireland, which represents drinks producers and suppliers around the country said: "At such an uncertain and challenging time, it's encouraging to see the drinks industry doing what it can in the effort to tackle Covid-19.

"This fight will require Government, the health and public sector, industry and society all working together on a coordinated response. As an industry, we are committed to doing what we can to help out."

Around 80% of cases of Covid-19 will be a mild to moderate illness, close to 14% have severe disease and around 6% are critical.

Generally, you need to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person, within three to six feet, to be considered at-risk or a close contact.

There are higher risk settings, where transmission is possible in a shorter time interval, where health staff are dealing directly with known or suspected cases in particular settings and may need personal protective equipment.